Twisted Metal feels like it was created not to become a TV show, but to be put in a TV show as the archetypal violent game some maladjusted kid plays: It’s about lunatics who drive around in armored vehicles blowing each other up to win a competition, and that’s basically it. Character backstories are developed in 2001’s Twisted Metal Black—which I played a ton of in high school—but we’re talking “whoa, this clown’s twisted,” not Joel and Ellie. It’s still primarily about slamming into civilian cars and cackling at the scream sound effect that plays.
I don’t know how Peacock is going to make a show worth watching out of that, but I also don’t have any serious complaints about the first teaser for the series, embedded above. There’s a car, there are guns, and there’s a twisted clown in an ice cream truck. Maybe in an ideal world we’d be bombarded with practical effects—cars really slamming into each other, loads of pyrotechnics, grindhouse stuff—but that doesn’t feel likely, so sure, I’ll take today’s network TV standard.
The clown, named Needles Kane but better known as Sweet Tooth, is portrayed by pro wrestler Samoa Joe with the voice of Will Arnett. The protagonist, who we see at the start of the teaser, is played by Anthony Mackie, known to Marvel fans as Falcon. Mackie plays “John Doe,” an outsider tasked with delivering “a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland.” A classic setup, if not Twisted Metal’s setup.
If I were going to really pick on one aspect of the teaser, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t involuntarily roll their eyes at the thing where an upbeat song is paired with violence—in this case, it’s “Steal My Sunshine” and a burning landscape crackling with gunfire. I prefer the less self-conscious attitude of Twisted Metal Black, which felt goofily sincere in its use of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black” as its theme, but I fear any further protesting that the Twisted Metal show doesn’t “get it” will reveal more about some repressed teenage angst I’m harboring than the show or its creators, who are clearly going for more of a wink-at-the-camera style of dark comedy.
Among those creators are Deadpool collaborators Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who developed the story, and writer and showrunner Michael Jonathan Smith, who’s best known for Cobra Kai. The first episode of Twisted Metal will air on July 27.
Regarding the games, the first two Twisted Metal games came out on PC—they aren’t for sale digitally anywhere, but show up on abandonware sites—while the others stuck to the PlayStation. The most recent game is a 2012 PS3 reboot, and I’m a bit doubtful we’ll see another, but maybe a popular show could bring it back.
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